Vladislav Vancura's novel Marketa Lazarova was based on a centuries-old Czechoslovakian legend. The film version concerns itself with a group of pillaging feudal lords. Though they regard themselves as noble knights, these lords are a raping, robbing lot, slaves to the many superstitions that grip their land. Magda Vasaryova plays Marketa Lazarova, whose misadventures begin when she is kidnapped and abused by the "protagonists." Director Frantisek Vlacil spares us nothing in bringing the Vancura novel to the screen, not even a gruesomely convincing public beheading.
by Hal Erickson synopsis